Album Reviews

Van Morrison

The Authorized Bang Collection

Artist:     Van Morrison

Album:     The Authorized Bang Collection

Label:     Legacy Recordings

Release Date:     4.28.2017

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Van the Man’s latest is far from that; instead it’s a huge, engrossing, triple album release that features loads of material that reaches way back in time, a back-back-catalogue of sorts almost. That said, there’s a fair bit of material here that, I for one—thinking I knew my way around the Irish icon’s stuff—had never previously come across. The triple-set includes many original masters, a fair bit of previously unreleased material and the first official release of the much-bootlegged ‘Contractual Obligation Sessions’ which concluded Morrison’s time with top producer Bert Bern and Bang Records in 1967.

However, with a collection of this sheer scale there’s an inevitable creep of just maybe too many alternative studio takes of his recorded material. Everyone loves Morrison’s old classic standard, “Brown Eyed Girl,” a thumping, melodic number that would in itself merit inclusion and a tip of the hat to the guy’s writing and performing genius. But do we really need, by my count, four covers? The answer is: Maybe.  The covers include original stereo and mono single mixes as recorded by Bang Records in the 1960s, and show a development of the aural search Morrison and producer Bert Bern, aimed for in the New York studio.

Morrison is one of those enormously talented guys, with a heart and beat that still, even after all these years and decades, owes is strength to R&B, soul and rock from the defining, liberated ‘60s. This release on Sony includes a vast treasury of material from those heady days when Morrison had just taken to winging it solo after finding fame and fortune as frontman with his boundary-pushing Irish cohorts, Them. The result is some absolutely tremendous music with that real, rippling, muscular roar of raw rock and rhythm &  blues essence.

For the countless souls who already idolise the guy, this will (despite the repeat versions of some tracks) be a totally unmissable 63-track release, a must-have to add to the collection. And who’s to say that’s a bad thing? Not me, for sure.

—Iain Patience

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